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Death of a Dive Bar: Club Foot to Shutter in November

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Photo: Facebook

A coffee shop may replace Club Foot, the venerable dive bar that's stood in Ukrainian Village for almost two decades. Said coffee shop is one of the possibilities that owner Lauree Rohrig has heard, who opened the bar inside the rickety three-story building at the corner of Augusta and Honore in 1995 with partner Chuck Uchida, but on Thursday announced they would shutter on Nov. 15. Rohrig blamed a proposed 56 percent rent increase and slowed business.

The bar's landlord informed the owners of the raise about a month ago; Club Foot was operating on a two-year lease, but business had been slow in recent years. "When we opened, I never thought we'd be there 20 years later; not many small businesses can say that," Rohrig said.

After Uchida broke the news Thursday on his Facebook account, the owners received an outpour of support from loyal customers and former staffers, which Rohrig appreciated.

Other reasons Rohrig offered for closing was a lack of parking thanks to the residential parking permit restrictions, and changing demographics. The hipsters, punkers and artists that embraced Club Foot's punk atmosphere have relocated, replaced with new neighbors that aren't enthralled with patronizing the establishment, Rohrig said. "They'd rather go up Division Street, watch the game and eat hot wings," she added, noting the stretch that includes the Fifty/50 and The Boundary. "We don't have any of those things and we don't have a beer garden."

Rohrig and Uchida opened the bar in 1995 when they took over the former Lizard Lounge, and January would have marked 20 years. The bar featured a collection of punk rock and pop culture paraphernalia including vintage posters and action figures, most which came from the owners' personal collection. Rohrig promised "a hell of a Halloween party" and other events as the bar's tenure winds down.

Is Club Foot another example of dive bars becoming an endangered species? Located just minutes north of Club Foot, crews last year razed Marie's Riptide Lounge, ending six decades of late-night shenanigans. Some have engaged in a class war saying yuppies and their supposed lust of shiny new things—including flatscreen TVs and craft beer—have doomed dives. Rohrig isn't so sure.

"What's a yuppie anyway?" Rohrig said. "We've had yuppies and so-called yuppies in our bar. They're nice, keep to themselves, tip well and they don't tear the sinks off the wall."

Club Foot could see a resurrection. Even before Rohrig and Uchida heard about the proposed rent increase, Rohrig said she had been scouting new locations, looking for sites with better parking for customers. She's even tried selling Club Foot's liquor license in an effort to raise money to find a new home for the bar but said there have been no takers. She's not promising anything, but is open to the possibility.

"It's sad, our customers have been our families over the years," Rohrig said. "But something will come up."
· Club Foot [Facebook]
· Club Foot Loses Lease, Closing In November [Chicagoist]
—Ashok Selvam

Club Foot

1824 W. Augusta, Chicago, IL